Solomon Islands coastal regions have taken a battering from Cyclone Harold [Source: RNZ]
Dozens of people are reportedly missing at sea in Solomon Islands after a passenger ferry ignored maritime warnings and embarked on an island crossing during Cyclone Harold.
It is understood the vessel MV Taimareho was carrying passengers from the capital Honiara to West Are Are in Malaita Province last night when it encountered bad conditions.
The Solomon Islands Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre says it only received word of the stricken ship’s ordeal late this morning, and its officers are scrambling to launch a rescue operation.
According to the cente, the vessel encountered very rough seas and strong winds whipped up by Cyclone Harold between 2am and 3am this morning – a number of passengers were washed overboard.
An official headcount is still being conducted but it is feared as many as 60 people could be missing.
A police patrol boat is expected to be dispatched to the area today to assist with rescue efforts.